Toe-clips are better

May 24, 2011

When I started writing about ignorance on Saturday, I actually wasn’t thinking of Versus TV. That just crept in. It was triggered by Sporza on Belgian TV.

You’d think that the commentating in one of the hotbeds of cycling would be excellent, and usually it is. I’ll even overlook the irresponsible rant that led to death-threats against Van Poppel during the 2009 Giro (Ah, the memories).

What really surprises me is the technophobia at Sporza. To this day, they maintain that alloy wheels with soldered spokes are the best for the cobbles and that carbon sucks, as is presumably putting a steak on your chamois for comfort. Never mind that alloy wheels haven’t won a major cobblestone classic in several years (not that this necessarily proves their superiority, but at least it shows they aren’t half-bad).

This past week they had an ex-rider speculate that Weylandt’s crash was caused by modern sunglasses and high-profile wheels. When I heard that, my ignoranometer went in the red:

  • Why use such a tragedy to try and make a point?
  • As tragic as it is, how can one crash prove anything? Cycling is a dangerous sport, and unfortunately it seems that every few years there is a fatality in the peloton. This was as true 100 years ago as it is today. Given how speeds have evolved without fatalities increasing, it seems that equipment is getting safer (first and foremost the helmet of course).
  • The rider making these statements was from the era where everybody drilled holes in parts to make them lighter, so hardly a safety expert I would say.
  • His argument on the sunglasses was that if you come out of a tunnel, you’re temporarily blinded. Is that because your sunglasses have to adjust, or your eyes?
  • He “boosted” his argument by saying that in his day, riders would avoid riding behind someone with glasses, especially in the rain. How is that friggin related? Of course you stay away from a guy who can’t see anything in the rain, and I doubt they were wearing sunglasses.
  • The high wheels argument has some merit in the sense that they can be more sensitive in wide winds. However, the concept that such wheels are stiffer in the vertical plane and therefore offer less grip has been disproven so many times (they are not stiffer because vertical stiffness is all driven by the tire and the spokes, not the rim).
What’s next? Back to the Danish helmet, drill out your seatpost, and toe-clips are safer?

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